Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Impeachable Offenses?

Mustang Bobby has a very good overview of the implications of the Downing Street memo and what we as concerned citizens should be doing about it. Like MB, I've also signed onto the Big Brass Alliance in support of the efforts put forth by After Downing Street, "a coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups, which launched on May 26, 2005, a campaign to urge the U.S. Congress to begin a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war. The campaign focuses on evidence that recently emerged in a British memo containing minutes of a secret July 2002 meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top national security officials."

As many of you know, the name of the site is a reference to the Downing Street Memo, a British memo recently made public in the London Times, which contained the minutes (PDF file) of a secret July 2002 meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top national security officials. They report that, in response to the release of the memo, "John Bonifaz, a Boston attorney specializing in constitutional litigation, sent a memo to Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, the Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, urging him to introduce a Resolution of Inquiry directing the House Judiciary Committee to launch a formal investigation into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House to impeach President Bush. Bonifaz's memo begins: 'The recent release of the Downing Street Memo provides new and compelling evidence that the President of the United States has been actively engaged in a conspiracy to deceive and mislead the United States Congress and the American people about the basis for going to war against Iraq. If true, such conduct constitutes a High Crime under Article II, Section 4 of the United States Constitution.'" Congressman Conyers is now seeking 100,000 signatures to sign a letter on the Downing Street Inquiry.

Shakespeare's Sister has done an amazing job organizing this blogger alliance and passing on useful information, both on her blog and in e-mail. She brought to my attention a fascinating article in Salon by Professor Juan Cole which lays it all out:
Going to war is the most serious decision a president can make. It should never be approached in a cavalier fashion. American lives, the prestige and influence of the country, international relations, the health of its defenses, and the future of the next generation are at stake. Yet every single piece of evidence we now have confirms that George W. Bush, who was obsessed with unseating Saddam Hussein even before 9/11, recklessly used the opportunity presented by the terror attacks to march the country to war, fixing the intelligence to justify his decision, and lying to the American people about the reasons for the war.
Cole also says that Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to Washington, "strongly implies that Blair persuaded Bush to make war on al-Qaida in Afghanistan first by promising him British support for a later Iraq campaign," although I can't find any actual quotes to that effect in this Observer article from last month about the "secret pact for Iraq war."

Simbaud adds, "A couple of days ago Corpus Callosum linked to a briefing memo ex-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill gave to Ron Suskind, who wrote The Price of Loyalty. It's dated Jan. 31, 2001, less than two weeks after the inauguration, and it describes the first meeting of the NSC under Bush. The document is marked 'unclassified with secret attachments'; the attachments in question are described as:
Tab A: Agenda and Policy Questions from NSC -- SECRET
Tab B: Economic Background on Iraq (from Deutsche Bank)
Tab C: Executive Summary: Political-Military Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq Crisis (interagency working paper) -- SECRET
Tab D: Summary of Unied States Sanctions on Iraq
Tab E: 'Iraq Sanctions Regime,' State Department, for use in public statements"

Lastly, Dan O'Donnell reminds us, "The Downing Street Memo is opinion, albeit by a professional whose job it was to provide his take to the British government. The memo contains no proof, no quotes. It is no 'smoking gun'... McCain has already simply said, 'I don’t believe it' and brushed it off as did McClellan. We're supporting the position of Conyers and the Bonifaz Resolution of Inquiry in this swarm. They strike a careful tone in demanding a response from the administration and an inquiry by Congress. I urge discipline in formulating support for After Downing Street – to present the case while refraining from providing ammunition that might be used to discredit the effort." Very sound advice, methinks. And the word "swarm" is a reference to this and other posts today, part of a "blogswarm" to raise awareness of this issue.